Because my father has always had a degree of interest in discovering a little more about his “Irish” roots, I bought him an Ancestry.com kit for Father’s Day this year. I helped him through the process of slobbering on a swab and inputting necessary information to get the process started.
About six weeks after submitting his sample, he received an email with a link to his data and findings. That was about 10 days ago. Then he sat at the computer on a Friday afternoon for several hours answering questions to set up a more detailed profile and looking over tons of “matches” Ancestry.com found.
He and I both looked quickly down the list of names for folks with our last name or the last name of his mother. Only a couple of those names were found (not folks we knew). We didn’t pay much attention to the other, abbreviated information that was shown.
The following Monday, I sat at his computer at work (he doesn’t work on Mondays) to drill down a little on the information presented. That’s when I discovered something very obvious that neither of us had paid attention to before.
The second name listed in the DNA matches was shown to have 952 centimorgans (whatever those are) across 47 DNA segments in common with my father. With those statistics, Ancestry.com predicts that, with 99% certainty, that person has a relationship with my father that is (probably) a first cousin, great-grandparent, half-uncle, or three or four other possible relationships.
But that was the second name listed (in descending order of a “match”). So I took note of the first name listed. The data showed the first name had 3,462 centimorgans across 63 DNA segments in common with my father. Ancestry.com didn’t give any other options, but showed that with those statistics, there was a 100% probability of a parent/child relationship with my father.
After recovering from the initial shock, I called my brother to tell him what I found. As two loving sons who had received from this man a lifetime of unconditional love, devotion, generosity, etc., we immediately started speculating the worst: Dad had an affair(s) at some point. Did he have “love children” all across the country from his early years of business travel? Did our mother know anything about this? What strain did this philandering put on their marriage?
My brother was coming to Fort Worth on Thursday, so we decided we’d wait to discuss this with (confront) Dad then. I knew Dad hadn’t noticed this information on the DNA matches and probably wouldn’t.
Thursday arrived and we gathered around Dad’s computer. Using all my lawyerly training, I started going over the matches and statistics, and we asked Dad what that meant. Did he know what that could possibly be about?
He was somewhat dumbstruck, but said he did have an idea and we should reconvene in his office to hear about it.
[This is where you insert the ominous music from a soap opera as it breaks to a commercial.]
In Dad’s office, he told us that this relates to the darkest time in their (his and Mom’s) lives. That it cast a sadness over them and that it was a decision they regretted ever since.
Then he told us that when he and Mom got married (August 1954, just three months after high school graduation), Mom was pregnant. They were young, from “Smalltown,” TX, scared, and didn’t know what to do. Dad had taken a job in the “big city” (Fort Worth), so they moved here (hiding the pregnancy from friends and family back home) and when delivery time arrived, they gave the baby girl up for adoption.
He reiterated how they had regretted that decision for all these years. But Britt and I tried to emphasize over and over how they did the right thing – adoption.
Through various messages back and forth on Ancestry.com, my Dad and my newly-discovered sister, have now begun the process of [hopefully] getting to know one another. She was adopted by loving parents and now lives in Grapevine with her husband of 42 years.
Win-win for everybody.
We don’t know where this may lead. We don’t want to force ourselves into her life or make her become a part of ours. But, it is very exciting to find this connection and we are anxious to see what becomes of it.
So, over the past few days I have discovered that I have a sister — not a step-sister, but someone sharing the same biological parents as me — 100%.
As I sat in the worship service on July 28 listening to Dr. Mark Bailey unpack Galatians 3, I started thinking how much like this experience is each of our journeys toward faith in Christ. Regardless of the “launching pad” of our lives — whether we start out in a loving family, a dysfunctional family, a single-parent environment, etc. — by nature and by practice we demonstrate (over and over) that we do NOT know our true Father.
Yet, His DNA and fingerprints are all over us.
He reaches out and whispers into our hearts, “Come to Me.”
We often try to discover Him and get to Him by being “good,” by trying really hard, or by researching and trying to learn about Him.
But we eventually have to admit that He has always been seeking us out and we need to simply accept His invitation.
When we do, we take our intended place as His children — as heirs to His promises.
Men’s and Women’s Fall Bible Studies
Looking for a place to learn about God or add community to your life? Our men’s and women’s fall Bible studies start next month and they’re awesome places to connect at Christ Chapel. Follow the links below to learn about the fall studies and sign up.